Using popular participatory theatre as a research method to expose the relationship between HIV/AIDS and silence in Malealea Valley, Lesotho.
Malibo, Rethabile Khantse.
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his study discusses the benefits of Popular Participatory Theatre (PPT) as a research method with which to investigate the culture of silence around HIV/AIDS issues in Malealea Valley, Lesotho. Popular Participatory Theatre provided the means by which the community named, reflected on and initiated action with regard to their problems. This research will contribute to the growing body of research which aims to uncover effective modes of communication which could lead to behaviour change. This study employed the qualitative research methodology. This was in recognition that qualitative research involves in-depth understanding of human behaviours and the reasons that govern that behaviour, and looks at the reasons behind various aspects of behaviour, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. Qualitative research seeks meaning rather than generality and contributes to theory development (Miller et al, 2003:192-3). In-depth interviews and focus groups were also used as instruments for data collection. The findings of the study indicate that socio-economic issues such as language, cultural practices, the way that Basotho are brought up and power dynamics around patriarchy contribute to the culture of silence. The Malealea Theatre Project helped the Malealea community to re-examine some of their beliefs and cultural practices. The findings also indicate that popular participatory theatre is an effective research method that can be used to collect data while also leading to community action.